CHARLOTTE--Teachers in the Charlotte area are learning how to fight to protect their classroom from potential harm.
In light of the Sandy Hook tragedy, an area martial arts instructor invited hundreds of teachers and administrators to a free course in Gaston County on Saturday.
"What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School can happen at any school in this country on any given day,” said participant Russ Eppley.
Though school systems across the country are taking a second look at their security policies following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut some teachers are also taking matters into their own hands.
"These children are our main priority and we need to do what it takes in the schools to protect them even if that means for the teachers to be more empowered," said participant Stacy Brown.
In a two-hour introductory self defense course, teachers and administrators participated in exercises to learn how to take down an armed intruder, as well as what to do with their students during a lock down.
"It's really making me think about how and where to put the students where they'll really be safe. Not piled all in a corner, which makes them an easy target," said participant Gabrielle Weinburg.
Martial arts instructor Ryan Hoover said arming teachers with the tools they could potentially need one day, felt like a calling.
He said this is not the first time he has reached out to educators since the Sandy Hook tragedy and it won't be the last.
"It helps drive and push a conversation. we're not saying this is the answer, the only answer, we are saying this is part of the answer but to see any real change the conversation has to be started and continued," said instructor Ryan Hoover.
Several school districts, including Gaston County Schools, have recently created a task force to look into strengthening their security plans.
Some teachers at Saturday's training said they'd like to see mandatory self defense classes in each school.
Hoover said he is planning a second self defense course for educators in Charlotte in the next couple of months.